The Barclays Premier League champions, who recorded a routine 3-0 victory over Stoke on New Year's Day, remain seven points behind leaders United without a clutch of stars in the coming weeks.
The most sorely missed will be midfield inspiration Yaya Toure, who is now set to link up with Ivory Coast for the African Nations Cup along with brother Kolo, the defender, and back-up forward Abdul Razak.
A fresh concern is star striker Sergio Aguero, who limped off with a hamstring injury shortly after scoring the third against Stoke from the penalty spot and will definitely miss Saturday's FA Cup tie with Watford.
A number of other players are currently sidelined but first-team coach David Platt insists there is no panic at the Etihad Stadium.
Platt said: "It is irrelevant whether Yaya disappears or not. The challenge is to keep winning football matches.
"We have a squad of players - we are missing Aguero for the weekend - that we will have to choose 11 from.
"Whichever 11 we put on the park we would expect to go and take the points. We have just got to continue to win football matches.
"We have been producing chances in games over the last month to six weeks.
"We lamented a little bit at Sunderland the chances we produced without scoring enough goals. Fortunately we are getting our ratios up."